Today, multiplayer gaming is easy. But in the 90s, it was cumbersome and not exactly user friendly until an app called GameSpy hit the scene which made browsing for servers and connecting with players a far more intuitive process. It was a game-changer.
The entire server browser process was a chore. You had to decipher a spreadsheet just to start a game and more often than not, the server player count is inaccurate or the map has changed. I haven’t missed GameSpy until I read this article, and even the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia can’t erase the bureaucratic nightmare that is GameSpy.
I still have some old physical copies of games that install GameSpy on your computer when you install the game from the disc.
You can uninstall GameSpy, but you cannot fully remove GameSpy from your system without scrubbing the registry. I know there was a full GameSpy removal tool from years back that would completely remove all of the GameSpy files and registry entries.....I wonder if I still have it backed up on some old burned DVDs.
As for Xfire - I loved that program. Too bad it went away, it was simple and it tracked gameplay hours. When it closed down I moved to Raptr and used that for a few years before that went tits-up. At the time of Xfire and Raptr more than half my game collection was physical copies and these programs tracked game play hours. I can see how they're not necessary anymore since GoG Galaxy and Steam allow you to add non-digital games to your library and as you play it tracks your gaming hours on them.
I'm glad to hear some people still remember GameSpy! I was lucky enough to get some commentary from GameSpy founder Mark Surfas, who provided a few quotes to the story. The story has been updated with these additions.
I just miss the less complicated, function-first web of the old days. Most of today's web is a garbage pile of spyriffic, anti-user nightmares. Discord can EAT it - I despise that thing's UI and it hacks me off that everyone thinks they simply MUST use the latest app regardless of functionality. Twitch can also die in a fire.
I liked Kali.net better.... basically just simulated IPX so that you could play games that offered that... WarCraft 2 and Duke Nukem were awesome on it.... I bought a lifetime membership for $20....wonder if they’d still honour it
edit: it actually still exists!! I’m going to see if I can get a game of Warcraft 2 going
I can't speak for other games that used GS but the server list in Halo is probably my favorite way to find a game. No waiting for Matchmaking, dealing with region locks, ect. You just pick what you want to play and jump right in. You see your ping, the map, the gametype, ect before you even join as soon as the list loads.
I'm surprised people even tolerate waiting in lists to find games nowadays, at least for FPS games. I could see it being annoying on consoles when using controllers, but really PC has no excuse. Usually games that use some form of matchmaking won't even show the number of available servers!